Thursday, 27 April: As the opening bell rang in London it was the shares of Mediclinic that stole the show, surging 21% higher. The huge jump in the share price was after the announcement that the co-payment for holders of a Thiqa card receiving private healthcare will be waived with immediate effect. His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, nicknamed ‘Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi’ presumably earning himself a spot at the Christmas party after ordering the move. Shares cooled slightly to close +17.51%.
Lloyds shares would’ve been top of the main index if it were not for Mediclinic’s astounding jump. Shares in the bank climbed a modest 3% after profits rose in Q1. PBT doubled to £1.3bn, against last year’s comparative which included an exceptional cost but the results are not to be overlooked given the challenging environment. Lloyds is the UK’s largest mortgage lender and is expected to return to fully privatised ownership later this year, with the Government’s stakecurrently less than 2%. Shares closed 2.31% higher.
The markets opened lower today, weighed by Donald Trump’s comments after the European close. It also seemed investors were taking some risk off the table after this week’s small rally, ignited by French presidential elections. The FTSE was down c.0.5% during the morning as the pound continued to edge ever higher, tipping over $1.29 against the dollar. As we write the pound has dipped below $1.29 but sits 0.8% higher vs the euro at 1.1872. The FTSE 100 today closed 0.71% lower, not helped by oil’s descent towards the $50 p/bbl mark.
Trump last night spoke about wanting to renegotiate NAFTA rather than scrap it, which was the initial rumoured plan. Last night the Trump team also unveiled plans to slash corporation tax from 35% to 15% in an effort to spur economic growth. The reason markets haven’t begun celebrating prematurely is due to the vagueness of the report and lack of details on the cost side, which critics have basically said will be expensive, not offset by business growth… but we will see.
At midday the ECB announced it would leave its benchmark rate at zero, also opting to keep monetary policy unchanged. Given the impending French elections in just over a week it comes without much surprise the ECB are staying put for now. Also in the news today was the latest retail sales numbers which showed that during April British retailers saw the largest increase in volumes since mid-2015. This comes contrary to earlier official figures that showed the biggest fall in quarterly sales in seven years for Q1.
We’ve had a few surprises over the last year. The UK decided we’d had enough with Europe. Portugal won a football trophy without Ronaldo, the US elected Trump and Honey G didn’t win the X factor. But now, possibly the biggest shock of them all; Blackberry is back. Once nicknamed the ‘crackberry’ they were so popular, last year the firm announced they were to stop making phones (sad reminiscent face). Well less than a year later and they’re releasing the KEYone phone featuring the good old keyboard again (happy reminiscent face). Could this be an actual success or will it be a less emphatic return than David Haye?